Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.
The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow. (publisher's summary from Powell's Books)
What happens when most of the difficult choices in life are no longer a problem, when where you live, what you eat, who you marry, and when and how you die are all decisions made for you? Allie Condie’s debut novel, Matched, examines just such a world and the result is the first book of a speculative fiction trilogy that has an extremely well-crafted plot, reminiscent of The Giver, and 1984.
Condie’s presents a utopian world where choice is no longer necessary because it is all performed scientifically, and results in the “equal” treatment of all its citizens. However, utopias do not exist and as Condie begins to carefully plot out the Society for her readers, the utopia ideology reveals a dysptopian world where its citizens are constantly monitored even while they dream. Condie’s world-building was flawlessly executed and makes Matched an incredible addition to YA literature.
In addition to Condie’s meticulously crafted world, her characters were for the most part well-developed. Cassia, the main character and narrator at first epitomizes a model citizen. She is excited over being matched with he childhood friend Xander and beginning a promising future as a sorter like her father and grandmother. However once the seeds of rebellion are planted, first by the a glitch in the matching process, and then by her grandfather, who before he dies, leaves her with a forbidden poem by Dylan Thomas and tells her it is OK to wonder, Cassia begins to doubt the very fabric of her Society’s rules. In the end, Cassia grows from total acceptance to someone who wants everything denied by the Society and becomes a true heroine making decisions that greatly effect the outcome of not only her future, but the future of everyone close to her.
While on a whole I really enjoyed Matched and feel that it has a beautifully constructed plot and is extremely well written, I did, however, have a problem with the love triangle. Even though Condie does provide background for Cassia’s affections for Xander, and her connection to Ky, I felt that Cassia’s passion and emotions were not adequately explored. Since this is only the first book in the trilogy, I hope to see more attention to this in the next book.
Matched is a fantastic addition to YA’s dystopian genre, and although I do feel the romantic aspect needed more development, the story’s overall impact is still very powerful. Not only would I recommend this book to all YA audiences, but I will be anxiously awaiting the second book in the series.
Source: ARC copy received from We Love YA Tours